Tsukuba Space Center 筑波宇宙センター
Be an astronaut for a day at the Tsukuba Space Center
Tsukuba Space Center is the headquarters and main operational facility of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Japan's equivalent of NASA. It's full of displays and exhibits that cover all things space exploration. There are guided tours that explore astronaut training, satellite technology, and the depths of space.
- The Kibo training module where astronauts train
- Tsukuba Space Center's large exhibition hall, Space Dome
- Guided tours where you can learn about Japan's space exploration activities
How to Get There
You can reach Tsukuba by local train or Tsukuba Express. There is also a bus that goes directly to Tsukuba from Tokyo Station .
Take the Joban Line to Arakawaoki Station and catch the Kantetsu Bus for Tsukuba University Chuo. Get off at the stop called Busshitsu-Kenkyujo-Mae. The bus stop is right in front of Tsukuba Space Center.
If you're taking the Tsukuba Express, get off at Tsukuba Station and take the Kantetsu Bus for Arakawaoki Station. A highway bus leaves from Tokyo's South Yaesu Station. The destination is Tsukuba Center and the bus stop is Namiki 1-Chome.
Explore the Outer Reaches at Tsukuba Space Center
Tsukuba Space Center is where JAXA trains astronauts, builds satellites, and conducts its exploration activities into the depths of outer space. This 530,000 square meter facility in the middle of Tsukuba Science City is where the serious work of space exploration is carried out, and the facility is open to the public.
Approaching the facility
As you approach the giant facility located right in the middle of Tsukuba , you'll know you've arrived when you see the H-II Launch Vehicle model in front of the main building. The model on display here is a 50-meter rocket that looks like it's ready to launch at any moment.
Where it all happens
At Tsukuba Space Center, you can learn all about space exploration while uniformed JAXA engineers and technicians go about their work right alongside you.
This is the facility where JAXA develops and builds its satellites, monitors their progress and analyzes the data they bring back. The facility houses the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo, which replicates the conditions of life in outer space for astronaut training.
The Space Dome
The main exhibition hall at Tsukuba Space Center is called Space Dome. At its entrance, called Dream Port, there's a giant 1/1,000,000 scale globe of the earth to greet you as you come in.
Explore the displays
The Space Dome has a number of different displays to explore with audio guidance in English. It includes full-scale satellite models, real rocket engines and a model of its Kibo training module.
Other displays teach you about space communications, the history of Japanese space exploration, lunar and planetary exploration, and environmental observation of the earth by satellite. Another area, Planet Cube, offers revolving exhibits that change from time to time.
How to become an astronaut
You can wander through Tsukuba Space Center by yourself, or there are a number of guided tours available. The Astronaut Course focuses on how astronauts are trained and prepared for their trip into space, while the Rocket Course includes a realistic simulation of the sound of a rocket being launched.
This is what hope looks like
The Space Station Course gives you an up-close look at Kibo, a research facility JAXA built for the International Space Station.
Kibo is one of the main attractions at Tsukuba Space Station. The name means hope in Japanese and its main purpose is to carry out experiments in space. Kibo has six modules, each with its own function, and the tour shows you how they all work together.
Time in space
Tsukuba Space Center is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Tsukuba . If you want to really dig deep and explore everything this fascinating facility has to offer, it's worth putting aside at least half a day to really soak it all up.